Daily Nation (Kenya), via BBC Monitoring, Dec. 18, 2002 (Opinion)
Text of editorial entitled “Is Mungiki above the law?” published by Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation web site on 18 December
When the Mungiki sect emerged about five years ago, threatening female genital mutilation and engaging in other anti-social activities, the authorities did very little to check its activities. Perhaps, it was seen as one of those minor irritants that would soon die out.
With time, however, it has become an organized shadowy movement becoming increasingly difficult to control. When it strikes, it leaves the authorities apparently helpless.
Take the latest outrage on Monday [16 December] when, in an orgy of violence, the group visited terror on residents of Karia village, Githunguri, Kiambu District [central Kenya], allegedly to avenge the death of one of their own who had been lynched for anti-social behaviour. They beat up anybody on sight, torched several houses, slashed animals and left one person dead.
Watching the television clips, one was amazed that such a mob could be allowed to organize at all, move for a lengthy distance in a convoy of vehicles armed with all sorts of weapons and unleash mayhem on an entire village without the authorities making any effort to stop them.
It is unclear why the Mungiki, who are becoming more murderous by the day, cannot be controlled by the formidable state machinery.
A group brandishing machetes, pickaxes, simis and rungus [clubs] cannot be up to any good. The law is clear on that. In any case, Mungiki is one of those organizations banned earlier this year.
How come such an aberration continues terrorizing people with such impunity? And how come the police and the provincial administration seem to have concluded that members of the sect are above the law?
In March, the group invaded Nairobi’s Kariobangi North estate and killed 23 people in cold blood. In between, it has featured in several nasty incidents in various towns, including Othaya and Nyahururu.
Is the government so impotent that it can allow an outlawed movement to unleash violence on people, destroy property and get away with it time and again?
Something is not quite right here.